‘Belle’ of the ball: FHS girls champs

Despite second-half rallies by Fulton in the semifinals and Livingston Academy in the championship game, Jason Mayfield’s Farragut Lady Admirals made enough big plays late to become a tournament champ on its home floor.

Holding off previously unbeaten Livingston 50-46 behind a game-high 15 points from senior wing Avery “Ace” Strickland and 13 from senior wing Ashlyn Sheridan, Farragut won the Belle Building Group Farragut Thanksgiving Tournament title game in Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium Saturday night, Nov. 27.

Tied with the Lady Falcons the day before after three quarters, the Lady Admirals (4-2 record starting the week) pulled away in the final eight minutes to win 60-49 as led by Sheridan’s 23 points and Strickland’s 15.

“These three were good wins, especially the last two, Fulton and Livingston,” said coach Mayfield, whose team opened tourney play with a 57-35 victory against Providence Academy Monday night, Nov. 22, led by Sheridan and Strickland with 14 points each.

However, “We’re still turning the ball over too much,” he added. “But to be able to execute down the stretch, make free throws and get stops, those (last) two games were good for us.”

While standout senior point guard Keeleigh Rogers has missed the start of the season with a lower leg injury — but could be back by mid-December — freshman point guard Annie Priest, the starter, scored seven in the title game after pumping in 11 against Fulton.

“I told them after the game, ‘We’re going to get better before Keeleigh comes back,’” Mayfield said. “... And when Keeleigh comes back we’ll be even better.”

“I definitely think there’s room for improvement without Keeleigh,” Sheridan said. “But since she’s been out, I definitely think we have stepped up all around as a team and made adjustments and been very flexible with it all.”

Though saying she feels more of a responsibility to score overall with Rogers out, especially driving to the basket, Strickland added, “I feel like our team has really stepped up and we’ve done really well.”

In addition to Priest, Mayfield also praised the second-half play of junior point guard Annalise Bishop Saturday.

“Annalise collected herself (in the second quarter) and came back and played a phenomenal rest of the game,” he said.

As for Livingston (5-1 record leaving Farragut), “That’s a really well-coached team,” Mayfield said. “They were a sectional team (Division I Class AA) from last year.”